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US Navy to arm its submarines with 'Blackwing' spy drones

The hunt for Red October is about to get much easier.

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The Navy recently announced its plans to deploy an armada of stealthy spy drones from AeroVironment aboard its submarines and UUVs. Specifically, the Navy is going with the small-form "Blackwing" UAV, a four-pound flyer with a 20 inch wingspan that collapses down to fit into a 3-inch diameter launch tube. It will use its array of electro-optical and infrared sensors as well as its anti-spoofing GPS capability to act as the submersible's remote eyes and ears.

NRL�s XFC Sea Robin demonstration Atlantic Undersea Test & Evaluation Center August 2013

The Blackwing grew out of a 2013 Joint Capabilities Technology Demonstration (JCTD) program dubbed, Advanced Weapons Enhanced by Submarine UAS against Mobile targets (AWESUM). It was developed to counter recent advancements in anti-ship ballistic missile and similar "anti-access, area denial (A2AD)" technologies by America's favorite frenemy, China. There's no word on specifically when the Blackwings will be deployed, but given China's recent aggressive posturing in the South China Sea -- not to mention Russia's arctic overtures and its revitalized sub fleet -- the Navy can't get these drones soon enough.

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